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2012 Cisco Live!: Increasing Interconnectivity and Innovation

Last week, Cisco Live in San Diego served as the perfect backdrop for showcasing the pace of innovation. We’ve come quite a long way from the Cisco Live of the ‘90s--those ancestral brick cell phones and clunky PC workstations! This year, people were using their phones to record videos, share pictures, check email, and send out quick tweets as they walked around. Proof positive that mobile internet connectivity has allowed us to better integrate the different roles we play in our everyday lives and to be more productive. No matter where I was, Cisco Jabber kept me connected to my colleagues and team who couldn’t be there.  But just because they weren’t there with me, doesn’t mean they couldn’t experience Cisco Live. In fact, they could remotely access all of the goings-on from any device with internet connectivity.

We are in a decade where flexibility seems to be the mantra and innovation the expectation.  Elastic mobile architectures, as enabled by the recently released ASR 5500 mobile internet platform, showcase flexibility being built from the ground up.  And flexibility is most obvious in our choice of consumer devices and the ability to work our way as enabled by the Cisco Unified Workspace. Ultimately, great minds generate growth and innovation.  Cisco helps by providing better networking and collaborative tools that free those minds to do their magic. It all adds up to a continuous innovation life cycle.

 

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Is Your Hospital Going Broke from Poor Communication?

A few years ago I surveyed around 500 hospital employees in all job categories and departments and asked what the biggest challenge to their workday was.  Three of the top six responses contained “communication”.  So today when I was reading an AHA report[1] on patient flow I was not at all surprised to see communication winning the top prize as the most pervasive and the hardest problem to fix -- taking 60% of the votes.  It outpaced the second runner up -- visibility to data – which came in with only 30% of the votes.

 “There is strong agreement that communications is the most difficult obstacle to overcome”

-AHA Report of the 2012 Patient Flow Challenges

Dr. Daniel Z Sands

Communication concerns were seen to impact discharge, inefficient patient handoffs and insufficient post-discharge contact with patients.  This is consistent with another study done by the University of Maryland on the impact of inefficient and poor communication, finding that U.S. hospitals conservatively waste over $12 billion annually as a result of communication inefficiency among care providers.  Interestingly, the study linked communication issues with increases in the length of hospital stays which has a direct impact on profitability – accounting for nearly 53 percent of that $12 billion annual economic burden.

Another study by Thompson Reuters demonstrated an indirect relationship between average length of stay (ALOS) and operating income -- the shorter the ALOS, the better the operating income[2].

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Cisco Positioned as A Leader in the Gartner Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure Magic Quadrant

June 15, 2012 at 5:02 pm PST

Gartner has released their 2012 Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure Magic Quadrant.  Cisco is recognized as a leader in this highly anticipated publication.

Our industry is going through dramatic changes. The rapid growth of cloud, mobility and business collaborations has put more and more pressure on the network. Disparate wired and wireless networks architected and managed separately are no longer sufficient to meet the new demand. This is the first time that Gartner covers wired and wireless LAN infrastructure together in one Magic Quadrant. It is a clear sign that the time has come to evolve the network infrastructure to address the rapid growth of cloud, mobility and business collaborations with a unified approach.
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Mobilizing the Workforce—No, Really

It’s almost Summer—the season of road trips. And recently I had the privilege of driving across the country. While some might fear loss of productivity with a trip like that, I was actually able to work quite productively, mile after mile—thanks to a WiFi hotspot, Cisco’s VPN, and a laptop charger that plugged into the cigarette lighter. Of course, it helped having someone else do the driving. From Oakland, California to New York City, I participated in Webex meetings, wrote and edited documents, and generally got stuff done. But enough about me.

In Salt Lake City, I met up with kindred spirit Mike Sumsion, chief information officer for iTransact, which helps businesses accept customer payments via credit, debit, and gift cards, as well as electronic checks. “I’ve spent the last 10 years making sure our company could be productive from anywhere,” said Mike. Clearly, he’s one who likes to stay ahead of the curve: A blog post from last month cited a Cisco report that said 46 percent of people surveyed expect to be able to access their corporate network from their personal mobile devices.

Mike’s company employs 50 people. While it keeps customer service employees onsite, sales people can work from home with their same IP office phones and computers that they use in their cubicles. The company is also looking to extend this flexibility to other employees.

In a nutshell, iTransact offers services that let merchants accept transactions without a lot of heavy lifting.  Its service is offered directly to customers and their trusted advisors, like accounting firms, banks, and others. A dashboard interface lets them log in to check on the status of accounts billable, as well as manage real-time interactions remotely.

Given the sensitivity of the information that’s exchanged with each transaction, iTransact’s top concerns are compliance and security. So when it comes to working in the Cloud, things are still evolving. As an interim measure, the company uses Dropbox to make sure employees have updated documentation to share with everyone in real time. Each new employee is set up with a Dropbox account, providing instant access to all necessary documents for his/her role. Since Dropbox is Cloud based, employees who are traveling or working remotely can access the documents from wherever. Plus, it simplifies the information management. Even though the document repositories are managed by a single individual, all employees receive instantaneous updates.

Looking ahead, iTransact does see more Clouds on the horizon. “We’re building a gateway 2.0. that will absolutely use the Cloud. We’ll be able to drop a node anywhere in the world, fire up a virtual machine and have it accept transactions,” notes Mike. “We’ll be able to scale geographically, and offload geographically as needed, to the server that makes most sense,” he adds. And the icing on the cake: All the databases and self-contained software will allow for 100% uptime. This becomes especially important as they cater to smaller businesses, with transactions and updates happening constantly.

So what does a fast-moving small business see for its future? “It’ll be more mobile,” says Mike, without hesitating. “Look around you—increasingly, anyone can buy anything from anyone at any time. We need to manage the data, accordingly. The dashboard we built—that will become a mobile app; our internal employees will update records via their phones and customers’ transaction processes will become more mobile than they are now,” he adds.

Amen to that. As one who thrives on traveling—and getting stuff done regardless of where I am and regardless of whether I’m a customer or an employee—I think the future looks absolutely sunny. With a few clouds, of course.

To learn more about how Cisco can help your small business, click here.

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With VPLEX and OTV, Cisco, EMC and VCE change the Mobility and Disaster Recovery Game (Part2)

June 11, 2012 at 10:00 am PST

Today, Cisco Live “World of Solutions ” (the show floor) opens at 4:30 pm PDT  in San Diego Convention Center.  One of the marquis demos has been shown at EMC World with a lot of interest.

This blog is the second part of a two part blog dedicated to this Mobility and Business Continuance demo, created by Cisco, EMC and VCE.  In part 1 (read blog here) I invited EMC Colin Durocher (@OtherColin) to share with us his perspective on the demo.  As promised,  I come back today with more details on the demo,  including a video interview conducted by Cisco Daniel Bogda (@dabogda) with EMC Craig Chapman (@VirtualChappy)  and VCE Tom Chatham (@tchatham).  I asked also Tom, who already wrote here, to bring  his  perspective on the demo.

Tom Chatham is a Principal vArchitect with VCE Corporate Engineering responsible for delivering VCE solutions, customer solution testing, technical marketing events and evangelizing private cloud. 16 years of experience in the industry, most of that time spent focused on storage, virtualization and unified computing. Including extensive network infrastructure, systems architecture and business continuity.

“VCE is excited to kick things off this week at CiscoLive! Between our big booth, speaking sessions, and demos we’ve got a ton to talk about (www.vce.com/events/cisco-live).
Like we did at EMC World,  for this year’s  CiscoLive! show VCE wanted to kick it up a notch with LIVE demonstrations of all the cool technologies we have at our fingertips.

Daniel Bogda, Craig Chapman, Tom Chatham

We have a number of VblockTM Systems going to Cisco Live! (and VMworld in August) so it made perfect sense to show off our Workload Mobility Solution. Besides, isn’t cloud all about the ability to offer services from anywhere?

We have three Vblock 300 systems located in the VCE, EMC and Cisco booths. An additional network aggregation rack has been added to each Vblock system to house Nexus 7010 switches, EMC RecoverPoint appliances and EMC VPLEX engines. Panduit provided 1000 feet of fiber trunk cable containing 6 pair of fiber, which has been hung from the ceiling between booths.

The Nexus 7010 switches are providing our core network services, making each booth it’s own data center. RecoverPoint and VMware Site Recovery Manager are handling traditional long haul disaster recovery. VPLEX Metro is providing Active-Active storage clustering capabilities. This is the ability to stretch a VMware vSphere cluster between two sites today, and up to four in the future.  VPLEX Metro provides storage array block level LUN consistency and data availability while OTV on the Nexus 7000 series switches provide layer 2 network services.

Diagram: VCE Vblock WLM plan for CiscoLive!

Let’s take a step back for a moment and look at what makes this “cool”. Traditionally, migrating data and applications in or between data centers involves manual steps and data copies, where IT would either make physical backups or use data replication services to handle getting the data from side A to side B.

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